Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Ask the Author - James Long

Mr B's Marvellous Monday Book Group was packed out at the last meeting to discuss the intriguing "Ferney". The author James Long was then kind enough to take time out of writing the sequel (you heard it here first!) to answer some of our group's questions. Thank you, James.

Mr B - Many book group members didn’t find the character Ferney particularly likeable. Some people thought that maybe he should have stepped up to the plate and killed himself at the point that Gally was murdered rather than be now pressuring her into a future suicide to synchronise their life spans. Do you think that’s fair or do you feel more sympathetically towards Ferney now your creation is complete?

James - He's an old curmudgeon. Wouldn't you be? I would hate to be sentenced to limitless lives. He's not nearly as generous minded as Gally which is perhaps another reason why he needs her so much. She is the only thing that makes life bearable. Of course, at that point he doesn't know she has been murdered for sure and goes on hoping. I might come back to that. See below. You are about to meet him as a young man.

Mr B - How did the writing/planning process begin for “Ferney”, was it with the relationship between the characters or the historical ideas?

James - See below. It started with the house. I wrote a version of the story, put it away for many years then rewrote it completely. In that time, Ferney had grown into a character who always inhabited a corner of my mind. I didn't know the full, remarkable history of Penselwood until I began to research it the second time around.

Mr B - The group were intrigued by the strong focus on the location of Penselwood and wondered first whether the house itself is really there and secondly whether there was really a Constable painting of Penselwood.

James - Yes, there really is a house. I've moved the location a little to protect it but it is on the outskirts of the village though it is now little more than a ruin. I was taken to it by a friend more than thirty years ago when it still had a roof and I tried to buy it - more or less as described in the book except the extraordinary old lady who owned it would not sell it. The house itself had a feeling about it which inspired the whole story. I go back there from time to time to say hello to it as it moulders away. There is no Constable painting, I'm afraid, but he did spend time in the area. The Constable section is based on his correspondence. We know when he was in the area, what he was doing and what was worrying him at the time. There are a few days when he was at Gillingham when he 'goes missing'. He could have been at Penselwood ...

Mr B - A group member had heard rumour of a sequel. We’d be intrigued to know if that is or has ever been on your mind.

James - Yes. I'm writing it right now. In fact, I shouldn't really be distracting myself by replying to this, but I've done 1,500 words today so far so it makes a good break.

Mr B - If there isn’t going to be a sequel, book group members would love to know whether you think Gally is now going to commit suicide (after the book’s twisty conclusion)? Or is that up to the reader to decide?!

James - Patience. Wait for the sequel.

Mr B - What do you think is in store for you after your own demise? Do you believe, or want to believe, in reincarnation?

James - I am entirely open-minded. I am inclined to believe in a Buddhist type of reincarnation, the variety in which we are all sparks returning to some central energy. If I come back I don't expect to have any direct memories of past lives but I have experienced that in other people just two or three times in ways I find hard to deny


Hen said...

Vlashy - well done having your blog mentioned in print....yours is so much more interesting than Nic's efforts...Vlashy sweetie you should write more often!
....sorry Nic! hehehehe!

Nic, thank you for the help with the Christmas shopping...'Hellmand' has been withheld as you suggested...Sir wasn't very impressed, but the delayed gratification will do him good!! The book is fabulous.


DebCarol said...

I realize this post is a few years old .... but what the heck, going back into the past is what this is all about right? I live in the U.S. I picked up a copy of "Ferney" when it was first published in this country. I reread it about once a year. It is my own personal time machine. "Ferney" and Jack Finney's "Time and Again" are my two all-time favorite novels. I hope the Ferney sequel appears soon, I can't think of anything that would thrill me more!!